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Thinkware U1000 to Thinkware U3000 - Is it Worth the Upgrade?

Thinkware U1000 to Thinkware U3000 - Is it Worth the Upgrade?

When Thinkware first informed us about the launch of the new Thinkware U3000, admittedly, we felt a mix of emotions towards the news. Sure, we got really excited since we’re finally getting the most advanced dash cam in the market, but we also thought about its worthiness to replace the U1000. Will it be truly worth it?

It’s because for the past four years, the U1000 has been BlackboxMyCar’s holder of the ‘Best Dash Cam of the Year’ title - and a personal favorite for our team members, too. Check out our YouTube channel and you’ll see a lot of videos featuring the U1000 – from installation videos, sample footage, in-depth reviews, follow-up reviews, comparison reviews, and even experimental features such as installing two Thinkware U1000s for a four-channel dash cam! Fun times!

Obviously, we loved the Thinkware U1000 like crazy! And now that we’re finally getting the Thinkware U3000 to replace it, we’re diving to the core reasons why the U3000 is more worthy to wear the U1000’s crown – and we want to share all of them with you.

Thinkware U1000 vs. Thinkware U3000’s Design and Cabling

One of the reasons why we love the Thinkware U1000 is because of its premium finish, easy-to-hide, and discreet installation setup. It looks flat compared to tubular shaped dash cams like the BlackVue DR970X, so it blends easily when mounted. It’s available in single-channel and dual-channel versions, whereas the rear camera could be bought separately.

On the other hand, the Thinkware U3000 is also designed with a discreet premium finish, although the lens for its front camera is much bigger than the U1000. While the front camera itself doesn’t rotate, the plate with the lens can be rotated about 60 degrees. Plenty for the vast majority of vehicles, but a bit short for vertical windshields.

The most obvious difference is that the U3000 has paid attention to the ventilation, sporting crossed grill ventilation design for better heat dissipation. We appreciate that Thinkware did this in the U3000, since it doesn’t only affect the aesthetics but the longevity of the camera as well, as it stays cool longer.

Meanwhile, the rear camera of the U3000 is longer as well. This is mainly to accommodate for the radar module built-in, which is not an option with the U1000. Another thing that we noticed in the U3000’s rear camera is how it rotates. We found that it’s designed to be rotated with a coin slot on the side, so it’s kinda complex in a way. You could probably do so with your key as well, but try not to scratch it.

Finally, going over the cabling compatibility. If you wish to upgrade from the Thinkware U1000 to the Thinkware U3000, take note that you can no longer use the U1000’s rear camera as the U3000 has a new dedicated rear camera. The mount of the U1000 is also different from the U3000, so you cannot reuse it when upgrading as well.

In terms of cabling, the power cables of the Thinkware U1000 and the Thinkware U3000 are compatible. However, going to the rear camera cables, the U1000’s differ from the U3000’s as the MicroUSB has been changed to a MiniUSB. The front and rear cable would need to changed.

Thinkware U1000 vs. Thinkware U3000 Image Quality and Video Resolution

We have released a lot of sample footage of the Thinkware U1000, and until now, we still find it impressive. The Thinkware U1000 boasts 4K UHD resolution @ 30 frames per second through an 8MP Sony STARVIS sensor on its front, covering 150 degrees FOV. Its rear camera covers a wider 158-degree angle, sporting a 5MP Sony STARVIS sensor, so we really get high-quality and wide views of what’s ahead and behind.

On the other hand, the Thinkware U3000 did a major upgrade on video resolution. Like the Thinkware U1000, the U3000 also captures 4K UHD @ 30 frames per second (that can also be downgraded to 2K QHD @ 60 fps like the U1000) – but its front camera already has the latest generation image sensor, an 8MP Sony STARVIS 2 IMX678. Covering a slightly wider 158-degrees, the front camera of the U3000 delivers superior performance in low light conditions, provides sharper images and even lowers power consumption in parking mode. The rear camera of the Thinkware U3000 covers narrower views with only 128-degrees, but is also equipped with a 5MP Sony STARVIS sensor, similar to the U1000. When driving in low light conditions, the Thinkware U3000 uses its Super Night Vision 4.0 feature – a huge leap from the Thinkware U1000’s Super Night Vision 2.0.

Overall, this is probably the biggest upgrade of the Thinkware U3000 from the U1000 – video resolution. Only a few dash cams are equipped with the Sony STARVIS 2, and we are confident to say that it’s Thinkware U3000 that delivers the best 4K quality among the others that have this technology.

Thinkware U1000 vs. Thinkware U3000 Recording Modes

We are fans of Thinkware’s Parking Mode recording features – from motion and impact detection, time lapse, plus Thinkware exclusives like Energy Saving Mode 2.0. When activated, Thinkware’s Energy Saving Parking mode saves a 20-sec video clip only after an impact has been detected. This allows the U3000 and U1000 to reduce its power consumption and remain in Parking mode for a longer duration.

We compared the Energy Saving Mode 2.0 in a Thinkware U1000 dash cam and found that it can last for 99.6 hours or 4.1 days, regardless if it’s a single or dual-channel version. Meanwhile, for the new Thinkware U3000, it can last for 535.7 hours for 22.3 days for 1-channel, and 489.1 hours or 20.4 days for 2-channel models.

While both the Thinkware U1000 and U3000 have Energy Saving Mode, the U3000 has added a Smart Parking Mode feature. This one is designed to protect your vehicle and prevent heat-related damage - reminds us of that AI Heat Monitoring feature in the FineVu GX1000 that we thought was extremely innovative and useful. So, if the temperature inside your car becomes too high or too low during Parking mode, the U3000 will automatically switch to a low-power mode. This means it will only record incidents triggered by impacts until the temperature is safe to resume Motion Detection or Timelapse Parking mode.

On top of that, the Thinkware U3000 also adds a built-in RADAR sensor to its unit. Yup, it is what you’re thinking — that external RADAR module that costs more is now built-in to the U3000. This means that when a person or vehicle is detected in a low-power recording situation, the U3000 immediately wakes up and starts recording. Best of all, it’s not just equipped in the front cam, but on the rear camera as well.

So, a lot of upgrades in parking mode. However, we did notice that Thinkware is now adding an OBD cable in every package to enable parking mode, instead of the U1000’s hardwiring kit. It can still be hardwired, but you have to purchase a separate kit. This OBD cable is universal, and works with hybrid, electric, and gas vehicles. The OBD cable allows for a seamless, plug and play connection to the vehicle, while still supplying all the same features as the hardwiring cable.

Thinkware U1000 vs. Thinkware U3000 Connectivity Features

Last but not least, let’s cover the Connectivity features of the Thinkware U3000, which is another big step forward from the Thinkware U1000. Previous Thinkware models like the U1000, and other dash cams solely depend on Wi-Fi for connectivity. Now, the Thinkware U3000 makes connecting easier with built-in Bluetooth connectivity.

Thinkware has improved their Bluetooth connection so that it alone can be used to perform simple in-app actions like changing settings, overviewing parking mode events, and other basic functions. With previous models, following up with your camera on what transpired while you were away could be tedious, and this is a major improvement in making the connection between you and your camera seamless, which we’ve yet to see from another manufacturer.

Moving on to the Cloud, we knew that the Cloud connectivity of the Thinkware U1000 was admittedly rather basic, but there are some drastic improvements here with the new Thinkware Connected app. It’s highly recommended for fleets, parents of young drivers, and anyone who wants to keep track of their car and driver even when they’re away.

Going over Thinkware Connected features, the U3000 lets you enjoy Impact Notifications when Parked and driving, Send Emergency Messages, Remote Live-View, Vehicle Status and Geo-Fencing. Some recent add-ons that we think are particularly impressive are the ability to monitor the live voltage of the vehicle, and remotely turn off the camera through the app as needed. Beyond that, they now have a full driving history map too, which can provide multiple months worth of driving data, if needed.

Though to be clear, the U3000 will still need an internet connection for the camera if you want to use the Thinkware Connected Cloud features. You’ll also need to have the unit in one of the more standard parking modes, as using the energy-saving mode with the radar will disable the cloud while parked, to conserve power.

Thinkware U1000 vs. Thinkware U3000 Safety Features

In terms of safety features, Thinkware retained the Advanced Driver Assistance System and Safety Camera Alerts of the Thinkware U1000 to the U3000.

With the Safety Camera Alert feature of both units, you will receive audio warnings from your U3000 when approaching a wide variety of road safety cameras, including Red Light Warning system, Speed Camera Warning system, Red Light and Speed Camera Warning system, Average Speed Warning system, and a Mobile Zone warning system.

Now, for the Advanced Driver Assist System, it keeps you protected with the standard Thinkware ADAS like Forward Collision Warning system, Front Vehicle Departure Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and a new addition, Rear Collision Warning system. We must say that this Thinkware U3000 sure has a lot of alerts, so it’s really helpful to keep you awake and in the know when you drive, keeping you away from possible dangers.

While they’re keeping the same features, Thinkware U3000 still did some good upgrades in this section. If you think the U3000 is still the classic Thinkware chatterbox like the U1000, for once - it’s not anymore. We discovered that the volume of the audio notifications can be adjusted separately. So, if you want it louder for ADAS and Safety Camera Alerts, you can adjust it separately from the system notifications volume.

Thinkware U1000 vs. Thinkware U3000 Pricing

The Thinkware U3000 has a lot of new features, so we did expect it to be priced way higher. The Thinkware U1000 dual-channel camera is still available in the market at $359.99 USD. Meanwhile, the newer Thinkware U3000 dual-channel is priced at a higher tag, available at $549.99 USD. 

Both dash cams are segmented under the Premium level, so if you want to go big and maximize the dash cam experience with extended parking modes, we recommend you the Thinkware U1000, and the Thinkware U3000 Exclusive Signature Bundles.

Thinkware U1000 vs. Thinkware U3000 Pricing

Specs Thinkware U3000 Thinkware U1000

Video Resolution (Front + Rear)

4K UHD @ 30 FPS | 2K QHD @30FPS

4K UHD @ 30 FPS | 2K QHD @30FPS

Image Sensor

8MP Front Sony STARVIS 2 +
5MP Rear Sony STARVIS Sensors

8MP Front + 5MP Rear Sony
STARVIS Sensors

Field of View

158° | 128°

150° | 156°

GPS

Built-in

Built-in

Parking Mode

Yes

Yes

Radar Sensor

Built-in

Optional

G-Sensor

Yes

Yes

Operating Temperature

-10°C - 60°C (14°F - 140°F)

-10°C - 60°C (14°F - 140°F)

Loop Recording

Yes

Yes

Max SD Card

256GB

128GB

LCD Screen

None

None

Wi-Fi

Yes

Yes

Cloud Connectivity

Yes

Yes

ADAS | Safety Camera Alerts

Yes

Yes

Microphone

Built-in

Built-in

Speaker

Built-in

Built-in

Country of Origin

South Korea

South Korea

Manufacturer Warranty

1-Year Manufacturer Warranty

1-Year Manufacturer Warranty

Is it worth upgrading from the Thinkware U1000 to the Thinkware U3000?

If you have been using the Thinkware U1000 for years, and you think that it’s still delivering its purpose, you can definitely stick with it. However, if you wish to experience a revolutionary dash cam that offers all the premium features that no other dash cam has offered all at once in one unit, the Thinkware U3000 is the perfect fit for you.

We truly loved the U1000, but with the stunning improvement in video quality, performance, safety and security of the Thinkware U3000, we must say that switching to the U3000 is a worthwhile investment. After all, you’re investing in a Thinkware, so do expect that the Thinkware U3000 will be with you too for plenty of years ahead, as a robust, and durable dash cam solution.

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